EIGHTEEN workers have died after a USB stick was removed from a computer without adequate precautions.
The offices of Hereford-based Envision Photography were completely destroyed in the ensuing blast.
Survivor Norman Steele said: “My colleague Helen had put some files on the stick to work on at home, and she yanked it out of the computer before anyone could scream ‘no’.
“I kicked her aside as a jet of white-hot flame belched out of the USB port and set fire to the desk opposite.
“Grabbing her, I dived through the window just before all the PCs in the network exploded with purple electricity that fried everyone in the building.
“I sprinted to my car, knowing that the printers were already becoming merciless hunter-killer drones, shouting for Helen to follow.
“But when I looked round I saw her frozen, something glowing in her hand, the awareness dawning of her fate. She was still holding the USB.
“She detonated in a flash of ultraviolet light that turned everything in a four-metre radius into radioactive ash and left me with first-degree burns across my whole body.”
A spokesman for the Fire Service said: “Every year, more than 18,000 people in the UK are killed by unsafely removed USB sticks.
“And you must never, ever, shut down when programs are still running.”